APS sexual education reform takes a step towards reality

Feature Photo By: Hannah Metzger Seniors Darlenne Guerra and Chris Warren cuddle next to each other as Guerra makes copies. APS is reforming its sexual education curriculum in an attempt to better inform adolescence about the reality of living a sexually healthy life.

By: Hannah Metzger, Review Staff

Growing up, the most dreaded and enlightening class for every elementary or middle schooler was sex ed. Students would awkwardly sit in their seats, avoiding eye contact with their fellow classmates as one of their science teachers uncomfortably explains the human anatomy and scolds anyone who dares to laugh.

For most, sexual education class was a dark and embarrassing week, arising more questions than answers; though, APS is now working towards changing this negative reputation.

Aurora Public Schools Board of Education has began implementing a new sexual health and education system to be administered to all 5th, 7th, and 8th graders (as 6th graders do not take sex ed.); and this new curriculum may soon begin to reach high schoolers as well.

“The new curriculum is compliant with the Colorado Academic Standards and Colorado state law. Our old curriculum was out of date,” explained Kenny Webb, the Aurora Public Schools Instructional Coordinator for Physical Education and the Arts. “We also focused on making sure there is a school-to-home piece, support for English language learners, support for demographics that were not covered in the old curriculum and that it is culturally sensitive, medically accurate, age appropriate and aligned to Colorado Academic Standards.”

The new curriculum is still relatively abstinence based; though, it also informs students of other options they have in order to live a sexually healthy life.

“Positive Prevention PLUS emphasizes sexual abstinence as the only 100% sure method for avoiding STDs or an unplanned pregnancy,” explained Webb. “However… the Positive Prevention curricula also provides information on contraception and access to community reproductive health services. This is one of the major changes in state law.”

Figurine of the human body inside of Mr. Kintz's classroom. Figures like this are used in order to teach sexual education to students. (Metzger)
Figurine of the human body inside of Mr. Kintz’s classroom. Figures like this are used in order to teach sexual education to students. (Metzger)

It appears that teachers are hailing this change as one for the best; however, some students feel that, even with the update to education standards, sex ed is still out of touch with the reality of the modern world.

Senior Jordan Jenkins took her sexual education classes in the 5th and 8th grade and recognizes the gaps and issues with the old curriculum, claiming that she did not find the class to be helpful or informative at all.

“I think that there should’ve been more on how to be safe if you chose to have sex in high school and sex in between same genders — I don’t think they cover that topic,” said Jenkins. “[This update was needed] because people are gonna experiment with sex regardless of others telling them to stay abstinent or not.”

This new curriculum has already begun to be put into effect over the past year and a half for elementary and middle schools. However, the new high school sex ed reform is still in the process of being approved.

“The Board of Education is set to vote on the last piece which is for high school students. If that is approved, the new curriculum would be put into effect this fall at all of our comprehensive high schools,” said Webb.

Some staff members hope that this change will encourage more students to take sexual education classes. Rangeview biology teacher, Mr. Kintz, explained his personal goals for the new curriculum.

“Many students don’t take sex ed, so, if more take the class, it’s a change for the better… I think that every potential parent should be aware of the risks and rewards associated with pregnancy, as well as the potential risks for disease transmission,” added Kintz, discussing what he hopes to come from this update. “If the data used to make the changes show causality between school classes and pregnancy rates, then I’m hopeful.”

Aurora Quest K-8 middle school sexual education teacher, Mr. Mural, agrees that pregnancy rates are a major take away from student’s sexual education, claiming that Colorado’s teen pregnancy rates from the past prove the adequacy of the former education standard.

“Personally, I think that Colorado has been on the right track with sexual education,” claimed Mural. “If you check the teen pregnancy statistics, you will see that Colorado’s teen pregnancy rates are down by approximately 40%.”

Mural explained that the changes made to the sexual education curriculum will create a more “comprehensive education” for all students.

“I think that anytime teachers have access to additional and updated materials it will improve education,” said Mural. “I think that the biggest hurdle for many teachers is adjusting to the new materials and teaching content they haven’t taught before.”

However, Mural admits that only time will tell whether or not this reform in sexual education curriculum was sufficient.

Once the new curriculum is fully implemented among all grades, students will be able to see for themselves if this update will initiate change within their education and community.

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